I am ……. as old as I am

I had a cousin who was killed in a car accident on his 21st birthday. He never graduated, never married, never travelled, never had children…….

I had an aunt who died from cancer at age 33 years old. She never had children, never owned her own business, never moved interstate, never wrote a book……

My father died of a stroke at age 49. He never saw his children graduate or marry, he never knew any of his grand-children, he never retired.

From where I am sitting there is still much that I have to face in my life that is difficult ……. being cast aside…….. being alone…. losing my plans for the future …….. having a depleted asset base from which to begin again………

However, being aged 58 years is not added to this list. It is just the age that I am.

Yes, it is difficult coping with the feelings of betrayal at age 58 … but this would be difficult, the hurt would be the same, no matter what the age.

Yes, it is difficult to suddenly be left alone at age 58 …. but no more difficult than a young mother left alone with young children. No more than a child being left by an abandoning parent.

Yes, it is difficult starting afresh with a depleted asset base at age 58 ……. but no more difficult than people who lost money in investment scams… no more than others who have lost money in failed businesses… no more than people who have needed to use their assets to fund a medical condition.

All of these issues are difficult situations for anyone at any age. The truth is that in order to overcome them, they need facing, they need dealing with. Thinking they are more difficult because you are a certain age is just an excuse to put off facing what needs to be faced.

My age has nothing to do with the difficulties that I now face. My age actually benefits me as I have a grounded experience in previous hard times that I have survived. So I know that once difficulties are faced, they cease becoming difficulties and turn into challenges. Challenges are invigorating and give you a reason to get up in the morning. Being the age that I am, I am better able to apply my past experiences to the challenging times ahead. Rather than facing difficulties I now have challenging goals …. embracing aloneness……becoming financially independent ……. of staying true to my values.

Whenever I start to think things are difficult ‘at my age’ …. I stop.
I remember to be grateful for the age that I am.
I remember to be grateful to have come as far as I have come.
I remember those loved ones who did not get this far in their own journey.
I remember to be grateful for the opportunity to continue my own journey into the future.

New family order

I am now back home having thoroughly enjoyed my time with all four of my children together again. It was the first time we had all been together for two years. We had five days together at home, a few days together at a wilderness lodge, and then some time in and around where my eldest son and daughter both live. It has been fantastic having them all around me and we had a great time. We enjoyed laughing with each other by remembering their activities and pastimes of their childhood. We enjoyed doing some favorite walks. We enjoyed preparing and sharing meals together and just generally being together. These have become my new happy memories.

It was a little sad saying good-bye at the airport to both my son and his girlfriend on their way back to Canada; and to my daughter who is off on an adventurous six months in Europe. On her return she will be taking a position interstate and stationed further away from me. So it was also good-bye to a way of life together we had both enjoyed.

Let me rephrase the first sentence in that last paragraph.

It was emotionally overwhelmingly difficult for me saying good-bye to two of my four children and – despite my resolve to hold it together – I completely lost it at the air-port and sobbed and sobbed in their arms. I was crying with happiness for the times we had just shared together. I was crying with happiness for their childhood that was now gone. I was crying with happiness that they were such wonderful children and I could not ask for any better. I was crying for their happiness, that they have made in it in the world and are now on their way to live exciting lives and I had always wanted that for them. I was crying for me because I miss them so much when they are not with me and we would now live apart from one another. I was crying for the unspoken words regarding the separation that we had all determined would not intrude on our time together and yet just the same was still a monster lurking in the background. I was crying for the change in family dynamics, not for what had become, but rather for the unknown of what we would become as the family continued to scatter in all directions.

It is natural for me to cling onto the old ‘order’ of the family unit of the parents as a central reliable unit and with the children gravitating back to that unit. I am still clinging onto the concept that our new family ‘order’ should become myself at the centre of this family unit and my children gravitating back home to me. For so long this has been the very essence of my being – me as the mother hen at the centre of my flock of chickens. Gradually I am coming to realise that in reality the new ‘order’ is a family in transition, with my twenties-something children spreading their wings and my thirties-something children setting down their own roots elsewhere. Gradually I am realising that the new family order will be me texting, phoning, emailing, and driving or hopping on a plane to visit my chicks wherever they may be.

And whilst this will lead on to new adventures for me in the visiting of each of them, I am as determined as ever that it will include me taking within me the traditional family values I treasure and imparting those values of love, support, encouragement and togetherness to them wherever they may be.

 

I Can See Clearly Now

It is towards the end of winter here in Australia. As the rains begin to ease, the skies clear, the flowers start to bloom and I can more clearly see the approaching spring …..

“I Can See Clearly Now”
Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all the obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Interlude

I have reached that point where I can finally say that ‘we’ have ended. Not only in reality but also in my head.  In my case it took me 40 weeks  – one week for every year of our togetherness.

I know that this is a defining moment and I know that it takes some people a lot longer to reach this point. I am also aware that ‘the ending of we’ is only one tiny baby-step on the pathway to becoming ‘me’ and there are still quite a few obstacles for me to climb over. I know that.

I know that at times I do still get sucked down and probably still occasionally will get sucked down into the gloom and sadness of the separation, the ending of the coupledom. I know that I will still occasionally have a yearning for the past, a yearning to be back in the happy memories, a yearning to change the not-so-happy bits, a yearning for a soul-mate – my soulmate.

However, I have reached the point where I do not see myself as half of a couple in my head. I see myself as a single identity, a unique person – although the defining features of that person are still a little fuzzy. The ‘ending of we’ was the first crucial necessary step for me to take on my journey to ‘me’. I needed to close that door properly. I needed to close it tight and make sure it was shut, make sure it was not one I would re-open, make sure I would not look back – before I could put my head up, look forward before me and decide on the next door I should open.

Week 16 – Embracing singledom

Week 16 – 06 January 2012
A relaxing Christmas came and went. I so enjoyed having the family home and being kept busy while they were with me that I did not stop and dwell on the changed family dynamics. In fact it felt really great that the children and I were all together again sharing happy family times. Instead of a sadness that I was expecting, there was happiness, laughter, joy, peace and contentment.

After the family left, I was alone again but I now accepted my aloneness. I not only accepted it, I began revelling in the time to myself. I kept myself busy setting up my new life as a single person. I rearranged things the way that I wanted. I organised myself. I focussed on me and got into a good routine of waking early, writing at my desk watching the sunrise over the valley, eating a healthy breakfast, going for a brisk morning walk, then domestics, shopping, cooking and other normal things. It felt good. Only when you have been through a tough period, when those ‘normal’ activities do not come easily, when you are literally dragging your feet every inch you take, only then can you appreciate how great it is when you become light footed again and you can once more go about your normal daily pastimes with a spring in your step.

One day I even noted in my journal that I enjoyed hanging the washing out neatly in a row and I was singing! I thought then that perhaps I was going just a little bit crazy admitting that I was actually enjoying putting the washing out. However, I think it was the absence of the oppressive feeling weighing down on me that was lifting me up and triggering my tuneful song, rather than the fact that I was revelling in my domestic chores. 

I repeat to you all that I was getting up at dawn to spend a few hours at my desk – and I was writing, Yes writing. I had found a new passion. I was really enjoying it, It was not just the fact that I was writing, it was the fact that I was revelling in the writing and revelling in the fact that I could take the time to write whenever I wanted for as long as I liked on whatever topic I wanted to write about. And I was revelling in getting up at dawn and I was revelling in watching the sun rise above the valley.

I was free, free to do what I wanted.

Week 15 – Aloneness

Week 15 – 100 days – 31 December 2011

I decided that it was time to stop mourning the loss of ‘we’; to stop being sucked down by the loss of sharing my life with a soul-mate and the feelings of loneliness in being left alone. Instead, I would focus on ‘me’ and embrace my new found freedom of ‘aloneness’.

What does this mean?

For about four weeks now I had been battling a flatness and glumness that came with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Seeing that as a loss of companionship, I had tried to break myself out of those feelings by keeping busy, doing things with people, and generally getting out and about. However, I discovered that often my greatest feelings of loneliness came over me when I was alone at times and in places we used to be together such as going out to dinner, visiting relatives and travelling. That is when the greatest feeling of emptiness was being felt, when I was surrounded by people and activity, rather than when I was alone. In fact when I pushed myself to do things it actually made my feelings of loneliness worse because when I did things that I would have previously done together – and now there was no-one there to do it with, to share it with – I would be left with an empty, hollow feeling inside of me. Except for spending time with my family and closest friends, trying to do things with other people became meaningless and fruitless for me at this time.

The other greatest feeling of loneliness that swept over me was an ‘intellectual’ loneliness. More than a loss of a companion – having someone to share my daily activities with – it was the loss of that one person who I could talk to on any topic and who would engage in deep and meaningful conversations – on politics, relationships, religion, society, poetry  – that one person who would know and understand and reciprocate. Talking instead with people on topics I found more shallow such as the weather or the price of milk was not resonating with me as a meaningful existence to have. It left me hollow, unfulfilled.

As I thought things through, I realised that it was not being ‘alone’ per se that was the problem. As a wife and mother for 37 years I became swept up in my caring role, in my busy life, and in focusing on my family’s lives and achievements. I lost a little bit of myself along the way. Throughout all those busy active fruitful years I often craved of one day having time to be myself,  to do my own creative things, to be alone. Now was that time.

If my life now meant being alone, then the way forward for me was to face the aloneness that was given to me and embrace it with all its glory.

Aloneness means that I can now focus on being me and being happy and enjoying the things that I like to do. I now have the freedom to live my life to the full in my own way. I can take time to find my own desires, my own strengths, my own needs, and to make my own plans, dreams and goals. Behind me are the days of having to fit in with my spouse or my children. I can take on new projects – big or small – or I can relax enjoying some simple pleasures of my own that cannot be dismissed as silly as there is no-one here to dismiss them. I can do whatever I want. I will now be able to take ALL my spare time and use it however I want to use it and make it work for me. I can create a lifestyle that is creative, adventurous, exciting – or quiet . One that is rewarding for me. I no longer have to concern myself with possible disapproval from a now non-existent spouse.

Above all I now have time. I have time in my aloneness to carefully think through what those needs and dreams for me really are – rather than being pushed in a direction that other people dictate to me what they think these may be. And in my aloneness I can find other ways of experiencing the lost intellectual stimulation that I crave.
Divorce will not be the end of my life but rather my new beginning in which I will transform myself into someone I never before realised that I was capable of being because I will now have the time and the control to become that person. I am in charge of my own life and now is the time to start living my “Plan B” to the fullest.
And I have come to accept that time by myself is OK for me. This is where I am at. This is me. The aloneness with me by myself is where I need to be – for the moment.
This became the next step in becoming ‘me’ – embracing solitude.

Almost Spring

This blog is my first blog which is all about transforming my life from ‘we’ to ‘me’. I am 58 year old woman surviving the pain of the collapse of my 37 year marriage that occurred suddenly through no choice of my own. . . I have survived the six months to date by living in today and enjoying the moments of a glorious summer. . . . the beautiful sunrises that have beckoned me each day . . . . the views to the valley . . . . walks through the forests . . . . .listening to the birds. . . .spending time with my family. . . .

The summer is now at an end, the days are shorter, the mornings colder and winter is approaching. . . . I am beginning to wonder how I will survive the darkness, the cold, the grey skies and the impending gloom of winter. Then I thought to myself – ‘why?’ It is almost spring. With spring comes hope, the birth of new flowers, warm days again and blue, blue skies. Winter is simply the path one needs to take to get there.

So too with my current life situation. What would I achieve by wallowing in the depths of a winter of loneliness and despair? What would be the point of sitting here mourning the loss of the supposed sunny happy-ever-after ‘we’ that is gone? Instead I can choose to move forward towards a bright new future as ‘me’.  I resolved that today would be the start of my transformation, my 40 steps from ‘we’ to ‘me’, one step for each year of our time together. I do not know how long each step will take and I do not know what the steps will be but I do know that I will get there. I want to keep my own core beliefs, hold onto my dreams and not let what somebody else chose to do drag me down as a person. At the moment it may be winter; it may be cold, dark, and despairing; and yet I can see that it is almost spring.